You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

I had the funniest experience the other day while lunching with a new friend that I had met via Facebook.  I invited her to join me at our monthly Women’s Peer Connection and subsequently met her for lunch a couple of weeks later.  

While lunching, I told her I didn’t have her contact information in my iPhone and asked her if she had the “Bump” app.  She had no clue what that was and thus began the tedious challenge of downloading the app, which for some reason, just didn’t play nicely! Well…after finally getting the app to complete the download, we began to “bump”…and “bump”…and “bump”…until it became hilarious as our “bumps” got more and more forceful.  At one point, I “bumped” her phone right out of her hand and onto the table.  We just couldn’t stop laughing at how long it was taking us and how I could have easily manually entered all the information by this time!  

Yes, technology is a “fun” thing sometimes and there are those that say the “business card” is obsolete and will be out of circulation fairly soon. I disagree and while I must admit, I don’t save every business card I receive, I do input information into my contact database from most of them.

So…while the business card IS still in circulation, let’s talk about the proper way to offer or exchange the card.  Presenting one’s business card is an extension of one’s presentability and likewise should be done so professionally.  While many of us are often attending “networking” (I prefer the term “mingling”) events, business mixers, and various conferences – it is expected that we will be exchanging business cards with one another. Appropriately, we should only present a business card after we have spent a sincere amount of time conversing with someone.  It is preferred that we wait until asked for said business card, however, that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes people just forget to ask.  In that case, if we feel we have enjoyed getting to know the person and perhaps would like to connect in the future, by all means, simply ask if the person would like your card.

Now…being a member or attendee of some of these events, I am aware that part of the purpose of a “business mixer” is in fact, to exchange as many cards as possible.  Many of the meetings will have a box circulated with everyone’s card in the box so that one may choose the cards of interest to them.  A little impersonal, but time is short and much must be covered at these meetings.  This method DOES allow for one to find and introduce themselves after the meeting or via phone call or email in order to connect for more information.

For the purposes of all other business related experiences other than the specific “business mixer”, here are a few tips for the proper exchanging of the business card in the United States (other rules apply in other cultures): 

  1. —Keep your own business cards in a leather or silver case, purse or upper pocket.
  2. Card should be clean and of good quality.
  3. Card should be offered with right hand (or both  hands as in some cultures like Japan).
  4. Print should face the recipient, right side up.
  5. Never offer a business card with your left hand.  This is considered an insult in some countries.
  6. Gentlemen:  Do not pull out wallet, insert card, then return wallet to pocket and “sit on it”.
  7. Receive a business card in the same manner in which you are offered one.
  8. Study the card for a moment before putting it away (10-20 seconds in Japan).
  9. Comment about the card (i.e, compliment the style or note address, city, etc.)
  10. Do not write on the business card.
As you go about your business day, take pride in each and every little detail, from your smile and handshake to the presentation of your business card.

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